Short story: “The Jamcoi”

by look i have opinions

“The Jamcoi,” by J. M. McDermott

First appeared in the collection Disintegration Visions (Apex Publications, 2012); reprinted by Apex here, November 26th, 2014; read with gusto by Setsu Uzume in PseudoPod 570, November 23rd, 2017

6,516 words

I enjoy this very much. It makes me think of lobsters, which have to be boiled alive to get the right flavor, and veal calves, which have to be confined in tight pens and deprived of iron—even the scanty iron they could derive from licking their own urine off the floor—to get the right tenderness. And foie gras.

I like that when the husband suggests that the bird really doesn’t feel anything, and really it only feels pleasure at the endorphin rush (he doesn’t seem to notice the contradiction), the wife says, “Don’t ever say that again, David. Please, don’t ever say that to me again.” I like the vision of the imaginary daughter, drinking from her little teacup.

I feel like this story could go further, could do something beyond just the intense descriptions of suffering and the rather literary ending. Not sure what.